Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 22nd October 2018

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿42 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.61 THB to one Philippine Peso

Harry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 150,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I am a 28-year old single teacher working at an international school and that is my salary after tax (including my the housing allowance)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I make an effort to save I can easily put aside 100,000 baht but normally the amount is closer to 60,000.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a 30 m square condo and pay 13,000 baht a month rent plus around 5,000 baht for bills and maid.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

4000 baht per month on taxis to and from work

Utility bills

1,500 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000-20,000 per month. I eat out most evenings and regularly eat in nice (fairly expensive) restaurants.

Nightlife and drinking

15,000-25,000 baht. I have a very active social life and go out a lot. This can involve drinking beer in cheap Thai bars or cocktails at roof top bars. The amount will fluctuate but a substantial amount of the money I spend goes on my social life.

Books, computers

Zero.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I could not have a better standard of living as a teacher anywhere else in the world.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Massages, food, flights, hotels.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I make a lot of money but I save a large proportion of it. If I wasn’t saving I could live off 50,000 baht per month as a single person. Any less than that and I would have to really think about what I was spending.

Phil's analysis and comment

Harry says he couldn't have a better standard of living as a teacher anywhere in the world.  150,000 baht a month, a single guy sipping on rooftop cocktails - I don't doubt it for a second. 

Slightly off topic but I'm hoping to get an article soon from someone who worked in a Thai government school, decided the salary just wasn't enough to live on, and so returned home to get better teaching qualifications.

Fast forward, the teacher returned to Bangkok, got a job at an international school for a very nice salary package - and hates every minute of it. He wants nothing more than to go back to his old job for probably a third of the salary. He just finds the stress, pressure and all the extra work too much to cope with.  I would certainly love to hear more so keep your eyes open for that blog. 

Not saying for a moment that this is the case with Harry and his 150,000 baht a month but I think it stands to reason that for the salaries these international schools offer, they would certainly want their pound of flesh.  


Nikole

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000 baht (before tax)

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

45,000 baht a month salary plus a 10,000 baht housing allowance

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Around 5,000 to 10,000, but only because I'm currently supporting my family with my salary. Otherwise I'd wager I could save around twice as much.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 7,500 baht for a studio, 30+ square meters in size.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

2,500-3,000 depending on the month. I take a motorbike taxi to and from work every day.

Utility bills

Around 1,000 for phone, 1,500-2,000 for electricity (I'm an air-con addict) and 900 for internet

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably my biggest expense. I'd estimate around 8-10,000 per month for meals, daily coffee, and groceries (for the whole household).

Nightlife and drinking

Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 for going out, but this usually means movies or shopping rather than drinking. ;)

Books, computers

I download what I need and I'm still using the same computer my dad gifted me 5 years ago, so zero.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I don't have much room to complain.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

[Some forms of] transportation, Thai massage, street food (in terms of convenience as well), and healthcare.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I think it depends heavily upon the individual and how much they're willing to kind of "go local". For anyone who's been here as long as I have and misses the occasional taste of a Western lifestyle, I'd say you could easily be comfortable at 40,000 baht a month (assuming no dependents).

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Nikole. I would call this an 'above average' teacher salary even for Bangkok - and I would think yes, you can live quite comfortably as a single person on 55,000 a month and paying about 10,000 baht for rent and bills. With those figures you are left with 45,000 a month and that equates to 1,500 baht a day to spend on yourself. It's a different kettle of fish when you are supporting other family members though. Hopefully that won't last forever.  


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.    


Julie

Working in Udon Thani

Monthly Earnings 80,000 (after tax)

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I make 80,000 Baht after taxes per month working for an international school. I could make some money on the side by teaching private students but decide not too.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Around 10,000- 40,000 baht depending on if I'm traveling or not.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 11,000 for a nice one-bedroom condo and an additional 3,000 baht for cell phone, internet, water and electricity (I use the AC a lot.)

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I ride a cheap scooter to work (paid 20,000 for it.) and an additional 1,000 baht per month for gas.

Utility bills

3000 (see above.)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat a lot and like to eat organic foods. On weekends I go out and eat at Western type restaurants plus a couple of beers. So my food bill is my biggest expense (15,000 per month)

Nightlife and drinking

Included above.

Books, computers

I bought a new laptop when i arrived in Udon Thani (25,000 baht.)

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Overall, I live very well. However, if I need to travel, visit family back home, or make a big purchase then I don't really save as much as the other months. I usually save about 35,000 baht per month if I stay in Udon Thani and don't make any big purchases.

However, the salary is still very low compared to the larger international schools. In addition, Udon Thani (Issan) is a lot more expensive then what people think it is. Living in downtown Udon Thani would be equivalent to living in the suburbs of Bangkok (Bang Wa or the ends of the BTS line) to give you an idea.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Thai massages and Thai food. In addition, the metered taxis (the taxi situation is improving here.)

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

To survive? Maybe 40,000, which would be enough to save in case of an emergency. (Thais live off 10,000-15,000 here so you can too if necessary.

Phil's analysis and comment

80,000 baht a month in Udon Thani is a heck of a salary. I certainly wouldn't feel guilty about spending 26,000 baht on accommodation and food. There's still plenty left over at the end of each month. You must have a very comfortable life there, Julie!


Henning

Working in Chaiyaphum

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I earn a 30,000 baht salary from my full-time teaching job and I make another 5,000 from teaching private students.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 20,000

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

My apartment rent is 3,000 baht a month.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

About 500 baht.

Utility bills

Another 500 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This comes to no more than 3,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't go out all that often. Probably a thousand baht a month.

Books, computers

I don't spend anything on these things.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Very good. I have more than I need and often feel overwhelmed with what I have.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food. My collegues and neighbours often bring fresh fruit or snacks as little gifts. My private student's parents often invite me round for a meal as well.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Living and working in Chaiyaphum, 15,000 baht is largely enough. I often spend money on stupid things and still end up saving almost two thirds of my salary

Phil's analysis and comment

It sounds like a very simple life out there in rural Thailand. It wouldn't be for everyone but it's all about what makes you happy. Henning keeps his food bill relatively low and that always helps with the monthly budget.


Walter

Working in Just outside Pattaya

Monthly Earnings Around 15,000 baht most months

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work for a small private language school teaching conversation to small groups. The school pays me 250 baht an hour and I take however many hours they can give me (usually between one and three hours per day) You can't be choosy in your early 70's - and I'm not.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I've got a couple of thousand baht left over at the end of the month, I've done well.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

My wife and I rent a small town-house a couple of kilometres outside Pattaya (well away from the bright lights) and we pay 5,000 baht a month. We're lucky inasmuch as we have a good relationship with the landlord and he hasn't increased the rent in the five years that we have lived here. It's a roof over our heads but that's really all it is. It's in a very Thai neighborhood with no Western temptations.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

This isn't really an expense at all because I don't go anywhere. I can walk to the local market, etc.

Utility bills

Around 1,000 baht a month for electricity, water and phone bills.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We have to keep this as low as possible so we always cook at home. Even a meal in a local Thai restaurant is a luxury. We buy meat, fruit and veg from the local Thai market and it's very cheap. Western treats like McDonalds, KFC are out of the question. I guess the total comes out at about 6,000 baht. My wife and I try to keep our daily eating to 200 baht a day or less.

Nightlife and drinking

Zero. Chance would be a fine thing!

Books, computers

I spend nothing on this. I have a five-year old laptop that's still going strong.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I got in touch because I'm one of those 'poor, starving' British retirees that seem to be the hot topic lately on Thai websites and discussion forums. And yes, life is tough at the moment. I get a state pension and a small works pension from the UK but it amounts to little more than survival money. The money I make from my part-time job at the language school is a life-saver! I really don't care how much the school messes me around or whether students cancel at the last minute and I don't get paid. As long as I can walk out at the end of the day with a few hundred baht in my pocket, then that's good enough.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Fresh food from the market. You can eat very cheaply if you shop where the local working classes shop.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

It depends on the individual's situation of course but for me I would like around 60,000 because I have myself, my wife and her school-age son to support. He doesn't live with us by the way. Yes, about 65,000 would be nice. At the moment I exist on nowhere near that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Ajarn sometimes gets criticized for displaying job ads from employers paying nothing more than survival money, however, I'm a great believer in that there is always someone, somewhere who desperately needs that teaching job. Walter is a prime example. That few hundred baht a day that he makes at a backstreet language school is probably the difference between staying in Thailand with his family and having to return home. 


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.    


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 264 total

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